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Chris Kreider – NHL Renaissance Man

Luanne Duncan

chris kreider

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Christopher James Kreider is not your average NHL player.  The 25 year old Boxford, Massachusetts native plays guitar, speaks several languages, has an appetite for literature and is a cerebral guy on many levels.  This is in addition to having a full time job as a left winger for the NY Rangers.

Kreider grew up playing ice hockey but like many natural athletes, he played other sports as well – soccer and lacrosse being two he excelled at during his high school years.  Chris was good at the game as a child, but at the high school and college level, he was a virtual hockey prodigy.  Kreider attended Masconomet Regional High School in Boxford, Mass for two years before transferring to the exclusive prep school Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.  He agreed to enter Andover as a repeat sophomore but was able to graduate in 2 years by taking an accelerated summer program at the end of his final year.  During his final season at the school, Kreider had 56 points in just 26 games and earned National Prep Player of the Year.  He was the highest ranked (14th overall for the NHL draft) and most talked about high school player in the US.

Not only a competitive hockey player, Kreider was an exceptional student and had the luxury of narrowing his college picks to Harvard, Yale, Boston College and Boston University.  He settled on Boston College, an obvious choice as a powerhouse of collegiate hockey, but he was also genuinely interested in earning his degree.  A desire to learn and be successful off the ice was encouraged by his parents David and Kathy Kreider, both successful in their own careers.

In June, 2009 just before starting his freshman year at Boston College, Kreider was selected by the New York Rangers in the first round (19th overall) of the NHL Entry Draft.  Chris shared the BC Eagles roster with NHL upstarts Johnny Gaudreau, Cam Atkinson, fellow Ranger Kevin Hayes, and recent Stanley Cup Champion Brian Dumoulin.  BC had high expectations for the hockey standout and Chris Kreider did not let anyone down.

In 2010 he was selected to the U.S. National Junior Team and played alongside Team Captain Derek Stepan to capture the gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.  Kreider readily describes this championship win as one of the greatest moments of his life.  In the same season he
won gold, Kreider’s BC Eagles won the Hockey East championship, the NCAA title and the Boston based collegiate tournament – the Beanpot.  In 2011, Kreider was again named to the U.S. National Junior Team, capturing the bronze medal this time around.  BC won the Beanpot yet again in the same year and Kreider was named Beanpot MVP, scoring 2 power play goals in the winning game.

On April 10, 2012, at the end of his third and final year at BC, he signed his three year entry level contract with the NY Rangers just days after helping the Eagles win another NCAA title.  He reported for practice the next day since the Rangers wanted him on the ice for their playoff run.  Kreider became hockey-famous almost overnight when he broke the NHL record for the most Stanley Cup playoff goals before playing his first NHL regular season game, with five – a record which he still holds.

Despite such a fortuitous start, Kreider was moved back and forth between the Rangers and the AHL affiliate teams a number of times between 2012 and 2014.  Frustrating as that had to be, he humbly declares it was ultimately good for his development.  Since Alain Vigneault joined the team as Head Coach in 2013, Kreider’s been a permanent fixture on the NYR roster.  Kreider is a solid player during the regular season but usually tends to shine brighter in the playoffs.

Hockey and fitness are his number one priorities but Chris Kreider makes the time to feed his mind too.  He enjoys a good book in his limited spare time and kicks back with selections varying from sports related non-fiction to literary masterpieces by Hemingway.  Known for being multi-lingual, he can speak Spanish and Russian and is notorious for chirping at Evgeni Malkin in Russian from the bench, which his teammates find to be hilarious.  And Chris did get his bachelor’s degree in Communications from Boston College this year, a goal he’s had since he left school in 2012.  He is only the second Rangers player on the current roster to hold a college degree, along with veteran Dominic Moore.

Kreider is known for being one of the fittest men in the NHL.  He accomplishes this by taking strength and conditioning training very seriously.  During the off season, Kreider trains at the premiere hockey workout center, Prentiss Hockey Performance in Stamford, Connecticut.  It’s been reported that he took no vacation last summer and consistently spent 5 or 6 days a week at the gym in addition to following the strict nutrition regimen.  Chris is at an enviable 7% body fat and most hockey fans know he can jump out of a swimming pool without using his hands (204,000+ views on YouTube).  But contrary to all the healthy eating, he is also a self-professed human garbage disposal who claims, when not in training mode, he’ll eat anything.  Teammates say they’ve witnessed Kreider eat 12 sliders “without breathing”.

So with all of his genetic gifts and the many hockey accolades behind him, what is the actual deal with Chris Kreider?  With his imposing size, insane skating skills and the speed and power of a freight train, Kreider has all the tools to be a game changing, play making top 6 forward.  He is solid and tough, he can hit and he’ll fight if he has to. He is motivated and takes all aspects of hockey preparation seriously.  However, with only 43 regular season points in what was to be his standout season, his production is actually down from last season.  He certainly has not lived up to the high expectations of his fans, coaches and likely himself.

Opinions on what to do with the skilled forward are divided. Some analysts see Kreider as a main piece on the Ranger’s first line, alongside Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan.  Others see his inconsistency as troubling and a legitimate reason Rangers management may let him walk this summer.  But as we’ve seen most recently with the exit of Carl Hagelin, losing a young player who significantly contributes to your speed game may not be the smartest move.  Kreider has the ability to strike fear in the opposition when they see him not really skating – but running, hurtling, galloping down the ice.  When he is successful in taking over the ice, he is almost impossible to defend.  He has the ability to hit top skating speed in a matter of seconds and is the one player fast enough to chase down the puck from a long pass and send it in goal.  But Chris Kreider often struggles with being able to finish.  Some accuse him of over-analyzing and others question his hockey sense, or being one step ahead of the play.

So do the NYR take advantage of Kreider’s high value and move him as a key piece in some monumental trade package?  Or should they be patient and help him to finally explode as the high producing power forward some believe he is capable of transforming into?  His contract expires on July 23rd after which he will hit RFA status.  During the trade frenzy, he will be generating a lot of attention from interested NHL teams looking to add a dangerous forward.  If NYR management decides to let him walk, they need to be sure their decision won’t leave an aftertaste of bitter regret.

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Posted on June 19, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Erin McCarthy-Sedita

    Awesome read, Luanne.

    Like

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